Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Day 39: Matthew 16:13-28 & Psalm 39 - Peter: Why So Brilliant and then So Dull?

Today's Reading: Matthew 16:13-28 & Psalm 39

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Peter: Why So Brilliant and then So Dull?

And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven." - v. 17

But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” - v. 23

Have you ever seen anyone go from absolutely brilliant to completely dull so quickly as Peter in today's passage? One minute he's giving the first clear Christian confession of faith, a brilliant statement of who Jesus truly is and then, a few minutes later, he's arguing with the Son of the Living God and is rebuked sternly for it. How can a man go from being called a rock to being called Satan in so short a time?

Well, I must confess that I have seen someone go from brilliant to blockhead faster than the speed of light: me! Peter's problem was the same that mine has often been: Everything's fine when we're listening to God and aligning ourselves with His truth, but when we start setting our minds on our own agendas, then everything falls to pieces in a hurry!

Simon Peter saw the signs and God the Father showed him their significance. Peter "got it" because God revealed it to him. Maybe he them got a little big for his britches. Maybe the revelation from God and the strong commendation from Jesus made him a little puffed up. Whatever the cause, the result was clear: As soon as Peter stopped setting his mind on the things of God and started thinking from a human perspective, he got off track quickly. 

We need to make sure we are continually renewing our minds by the Word and the Spirit, that we are continually calling ourselves away from the world's perspective or the perspective of our flesh. When we align our thinking with God's revelation, our lives are more fruitful for God's glory.

Prayer Based on Psalm 39:

Psalm 39 is a powerful and even desperate prayer of repentance and asking for deliverance. At times, the psalm can feel uncomfortable, but we need language to express the deep groaning of our souls:

I said, “I will guard my ways,
    that I may not sin with my tongue;
I will guard my mouth with a muzzle,
    so long as the wicked are in my presence.”
I was mute and silent;
    I held my peace to no avail,
and my distress grew worse.
My heart became hot within me.
As I mused, the fire burned;
    then I spoke with my tongue:

“O Lord, make me know my end
    and what is the measure of my days;
    let me know how fleeting I am!
Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
    and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! (Selah)

Surely a man goes about as a shadow!
Surely for nothing they are in turmoil;
    man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!

“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?
    My hope is in you.

Deliver me from all my transgressions. - vv. 1-8a

Heavenly Father, we live in a fallen, sin-filled world, where the wicked who hate You are all around us. It is so difficult for us, Lord, to know when to speak and when to keep silent, what to say and when not to say anything. Give us wisdom, O Lord, that we might be faithful and effective ambassadors for You in this world. 

Father, let us know how short our lives on this earth are and let us not forget. It's so easy for us to get discouraged or to grow weary or to lose the eternal perspective on our lives.

While we are living our short lives in this world, Lord, we are waiting for You and for You alone, for You are our hope and our deliverer. Deliver us, O Lord, from all of our transgressions. Safeguard our lives and our souls by Your power and for Your glory, O Lord. In Jesus' name, Amen. 

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